Supes cap vacation accrual for unrepresented employees


Non-union group offers 12.7 percent concessions in variety of compensation cuts
Non-union group offers 12.7 percent concessions in variety of compensation cuts

The county board of supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday that will cut 12.27 percent savings from the unrepresented employees group, including a cap on vacation accural that had members of the public speaking out against it from multiple angles.

The supervisors first reviewed a resolution to limit vacation accrual and require unrepresented employees, a group that includes management and confidential employees, to use up any vacation time that exceeds their accrual rate by more than two times at the March 20 meeting. Supervisor Margie Barrios said she and Supervisor Robert Rivas, who are both on the budget committee, met with the administration and members of the unrepresented group to discuss a resolution.

“Supervisor Rivas and I felt that we should go back because the unrepresented group had not been able to meet with the committee,” Barrios said. “This resolution includes more than the original resolution brought before you in March. It is a little higher than what is expected from other groups.”

The supervisors have asked each bargaining unit to provide 10 percent in cuts. The sheriff department’s union has proposed a 10 percent plan that will be presented at a future date, and other bargaining units are still in negotiations.

Out of the budget meeting, Barrios and Rivas brought forth a new resolution that includes a vacation limit plan as well as other concessions from the employees to save money in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

One of the mandates in the original resolution from March included a requirement for employees above the accrual limit to use six days of vacation time a month until they got below the cap of two times their accrual rate. Employees expressed concern that it may be difficult to have staff members out of the office for that many days a month.

“I hope this resolution gives the flexibility to take the necessary time off to help the county, with minimal disruption to the work done,” Rivas said. “I want to make it clear that we will review it at the beginning of 2013. Reducing that uncapped vacation – that is a huge problem. If it doesn’t work, we will be prepared to take drastic measures.”

Jacki Credico, a human resources analyst for the county, said that she had looked back at all the payouts for employees in the confidential group for the last 24 months and there was one payout that exceeded $100,000 for an employee who had worked for the county for 21 years.

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz was quick to point out that other smaller payouts could also add up to large amounts. The supervisors said the unfunded liability in unlimited vacation is about $5.3 million. The resolution will freeze the current vacation as of July 1, 2012 at the current rate of pay for the employee. A new vacation account will be created where employees can accrue up to two times their annual vacation accrual rate. The staff will make reports to the board at least every six months on how employees are doing on depleting the frozen account. If the balances are not depleted by July 1, 2014, the county administrative officer will implement a mandatory time-

off schedule.

Joe Paul Gonzalez, the county clerk-auditor-recorder, said that keeping two separate vacation balances at different rates of pay would prove difficult for his office. He encouraged the board of supervisors to do away with the wording that would keep the pay rate at the rate as of July 1, 2012 for the vacation time. He said the current accounting system would not allow them to keep two separate rates of pay for one employee.

“As you know, our office has been affected by layoffs and we are in the process of looking at a new system,” Gonzalez said. “Please strike the second sentence that would allow the office to implement this in an efficient manner.”

Supervisors Jerry Muenzer and Anthony Botelho said the rate of vacation pay should stay at what it is on July 1, 2012 to keep employees from getting paid out at a higher rate if they still have a balance in their frozen account when they leave their jobs in the future with a higher salary. County Administrative Officer Rich Inman said that most salary increases come in the form of step increases and promotions – and since step increases are frozen for the coming year, most employees were unlikely to receive any increase. Barrios and Rivas agreed to discuss the matter further with the budget committee to come up with a solution for tracking the vacation hours.

Members of the Service Employees International Union spoke out against the resolution, as did one member of the unrepresented group.

Henry Soria, of SEIU, called the resolution “full of gimmicks” and said that it did not include language that would make a vacation cap enforceable.

During the public comment period, Soria read a letter that was signed by 48 county employees in the union.

“We urge you to review the resolution today,” Soria said.

Martha Booker, the president for the local SEIU chapter, thanked the supervisors for putting the item on the agenda but also had issues with the resolution.

“The resolution was written by unrepresented employees for unrepresented employees,” Booker said. “It does not require in clear, concise language a system (of implementation.)”

Booker also took issue with the 15 furlough days included in the resolution for unrepresented employees. She said the group has a “use it or lose it” policy that allows them to put off taking their furloughs so that the county has to pay them for those days. Credico said that the employees take a pay decrease on each paycheck throughout the year that accounts for 15 days worth of pay and then they take their furlough days throughout the year. She said the deductions from each pay period total about a 5 percent pay decrease.

Catherine Shaw, a management analyst, spoke out against the resolution because she said the supervisor should not be putting together resolutions based on the notion that all employees are equal.

“The unrepresented group has given more concessions than any other group,” she said, adding that the union has been using intimidation to promote its agenda. “Common sense and responsible discussions are needed, not name calling or pitting employees against each other.”

She said the resolution would require key employees to be gone about 40 days in the next year, between furloughs and attempts to use the frozen vacation balance.

Shaw said she has worked through lunch, after 5 p.m. and on weekends without being paid, and she knows many other employees who do it as well.

“I don’t get paid and I don’t expect to get paid,” she said. “But I do expect respect from my employer.”

She asked that the board reconsider capping vacation at two times the annual accrual rate to four times the annual accrual rate, as suggested by unrepresented employees in the budget committee meeting.

“When a department knows about a pending retirement, the department budgets for it,” she said.

The supervisors approved the resolution with changes to the wording that included a request for reports on how the balances are depleting at six-month intervals and a deadline of using up the frozen vacation account balance by July 1, 2014, before the CAO would implement a mandatory time-off schedule.

“I want to take every effort to make sure the caps are real,” Barrios said.

In addition to the vacation cap, the resolution included anticipated savings of $338,927 from a combination of furloughs, employee contributions to retirement and a continued freeze on salary steps. In addition to the furloughs and step freezes, the employees would be required to contribute 4 percent of their pensionable income to their CalPERS retirement pension.

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